Divorce Regrets

When I was growing up divorce was rare, not so rare as to be unheard of, but rare enough that we all “knew” that it was wrong. I say “knew” because the feelings we had then was a hushed sense of wrongness, of understanding there was something unintended yet dynamically painful. Before the era of unilateral divorce, marriages had to be attacked from both sides, that is, both parties had to agree (in the sense of conferring consent) even if not on a personal, emotional or spiritual level. When divorce was one sided it was the aggrieved partner, the one who discovered an affair, or other horrific wrong to justify the divorce. Divorce is not the same today.

The ease with which a rebellious partner attains to a divorce is astounding. Michelle Davis (author; The Divorce Remedy) wrote, “My experience is that divorce is almost always unilateral. It’s not a democracy. One person gets to decide the fate of not only the marriage but the family.” And children are often the victims of one or both parents desire to dissolve a natural relationship in an unnatural way.  Chip Ingram (author; Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships) wrote, “They kept asking me to choose who I wanted to stay with. Why couldn’t they choose to stay together?”

Even if a divorced spouse later remarries and later find happiness (as I believe, in submission to the will of Adonai for marriage) the pain of the divorce has lasting consequences. Children’s lives fall apart (Elizabeth Marquardt; The Emotional Hurdles of Living Through a Divorce; FamilyLife.com Broadcast 10/24/06). In contrast to the children of divorce, children whose parents remain married received benefits (advantages) which extend into their adult lives (Linda Wait, Maggie Gallagher; The Case for Marriage).

And those benefits do not only accrue to the children, married partners in the long-term “live longer, healthier lives with higher levels of emotional well-being and lower rates of mental illness and emotional distress. (They) make more money than otherwise similar singles and build more wealth and experience – than do cohabitating (sic) couples with similar income levels.” (Maggie Gallagher, The Institute for Marriage and Public Policy).

Somewhere in searching for answers to why my ex wanted to become my ex I heard or read the statement that couples who struggled through the bad times five years later were far happier together than those who divorced and remarried. I know that though I’ve remarried and am happier to be with someone whose life is intertwined with my own, who loves the L0rd as much as do I, there is an undercurrent of unease. It is as if I understand that once having given up on a relationship, the easy way out of troubled times is to dissolve another relationship, divorce again. Should this really be the way?

In the years after I was forcibly divorced I felt so alone, as if I’d made a mistake, a horrible mistake and if I worked or believed enough I could fix the error and restore what was lost. As I said above, in finally coming to terms with my ex’s decision to abandon our family, I found someone better in so many ways, someone who trusts more in a loving G0d than in a flawed human decision making paradigm. I finally understand it isn’t about being with someone in a guaranteed relationship, one safe from divorce, it is about being in a right relationship with G0d.

I couldn’t make her want to stay, and I am not certain that if I could have I would have. My life with my wife (today) is far richer in so many ways. For one thing we understand that being married to someone who loves G0d more than self or the other matters more than anything else; that is, to have similarly based faith in HaShem.

We met pursuing similar goals in a post-graduate doctoral program, we were (she’s retired now) both school teachers. We both have an Hispanic background: my mother was born in Mexico, my father was raised in New Mexico and spoke Spanish while growing up, and her parents were missionaries in Mexico who learned Spanish in the field and lived in Venezuela where my wife learned Spanish as a first language.

What I am not saying  is these things alone, absent other factors, make for a good marriage, though it is common knowledge that similar backgrounds make for an easier path in marriage. The center of a good marriage is when both parties rely on faith in G0d more than anything else.

What I am saying is this, “…if there is even one-half of an ounce of friendliness left in your marriage, take each other by the hand, look at each other’s eyes and then remember of the love that brought you together in the first place! Let each other know, somehow, that you are needed, loved and wanted!” (Guy M. Bradley, West Point, Utah, Deseret News, January 11, 2001, Letters to the Editor, A-10).

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